De Lima questions new tacks on ‘war on drug’ campaign

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Senator Leila M. de Lima today questioned the new tacks of the Duterte administration in its all-out war on drugs, notably the use of stickers and drop-boxes which are even more prone to more human rights violations.

De Lima, a known human rights defender, filed Senate Resolution No. 476 directing an appropriate Senate committee to look into the plan by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to mark houses with “drug-free” stickers.

She also wanted to inquire into the DILG’s plan to use drop-boxes to collect names of suspected drug offenders, a practice that has reportedly been implemented in Bgy. Valencia, Quezon City.

“While the government should continue to pursue measures to address trafficking of illegal drugs, it should not result in violations of the Constitution nor compromise of human rights and fundamental freedoms,” she said.

“Congress must continue to monitor the implementation of this campaign and ensure (that) measures are in place through relevant legislation to prevent human rights violations, especially those that unfairly target the most vulnerably members of society,” she added.

Last Aug. 9, the policemen in Cavite have reportedly implemented the use of “drug-free home” sticker campaign as part of the government’s “non-violent approach” in the campaign against illegal drugs, also known as “Oplan Hangyu.”

According to the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), the use of “drug-free” stickers may unduly discriminate and/or tagged suspected drug offenders without due process of the law as guaranteed by the Constitution.

De Lima, a former justice secretary, pointed out that the “drug-free” sticker campaign is reminiscent of the Manila City’s shame campaign which was later on declared as unconstitutional by the Court of Appeals sometime in 2000.

“By labelling households as drug-free, the program promotes the ostracization of residents of households who refused or was denied the stickers, which could end up forcing such households to prove their innocence in violation of their constitutional rights,” she said.

“Even as we recognize the crucial role of the community in the war on drugs, government measures that publicly label citizens as being ‘not drug-free’ by implication could lead not just to official abuse but also to misguided vigilantism and the collapse of the rule of law,” she added.

The Senator from Bicol also took issue on the recent move by the Philippine National Police (PNP) to conduct house-t0-house drug testing, stressing that such practice discriminates only the poor because PNP admitted it cannot apply same tack on “posh villages” and “gated communities.”

“The government’s admitted failure to implement the same program in gated communities violates the right of those covered to equal protection of law. The impact on ordinary citizens, especially the poor, would be graver and more dangerous,” she noted.

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